Time to hold the Wellington Water Committee accountable

The Post reports:

A spreadsheet blunder has resulted in Wellington Water asking for less money than it needs from every council in the region – to the tune of tens of millions of dollars.

The last-minute request for increased funding was made in a week when cash-strapped councils are making major decisions on long-term plans, with one mayor labelling the water agency “incompetent”.

The mistake – described as a miscalculation where programme management costs had not been budgeted for – was revealed in Thursday’s Greater Wellington Regional Council meeting.

The Post understands this now increases Wellington City Council’s budget by $9m, while Lower Hutt’s budget blowout was said to be significantly higher. Mayors and council staff were not able to confirm the numbers on the record ahead of Friday’s Wellington Water Committee meeting.

Upper Hutt mayor Wayne Guppy, a long-time critic of Wellington Water, said it was “beyond belief” and “just incompetent”. The discovery of the error could not come at a worse time, when councils were almost finished budgeting one of the toughest long-term plans in local government history.

That $9 million is an extra $100 or more per household.

Wellington Water committee chairperson and Hutt City mayor Campbell Barry said he became aware of the issue in the past 48 to 72 hours and staff were working through what it would mean for the Hutt.

“I’ve been really clear to Wellington Water they need to front up to this issue at the water committee [on Friday] and give a full explanation, and the steps they are taking.

Time for Councils to sack their reps on the Wellington Water Committee and replace them with ones that will hold Wellington Water to account.

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